Navigating ethics in a pandemic—Contempt for the weak versus love of neighbor in a Swedish lens

Article by Sigurd Bergmann in Dialog.

The article draws on the author’s observations and reflections about Sweden’s pandemic management from February 2020 to June 2021. It does not simply interpret the lessons one can learn from the Swedish biopolitical experiment, but focuses on some central ethical challenges that every nation had to face in an accelerating pandemic. The intention with such a sharp critical discussion of the Swedish experience is to clarify some of the crucial ethical dilemmas and abysses in pandemic ethics. One article cannot possibly cover the wide and deep agenda for all complex ethical dimensions in a pandemic. This contribution in particular explores why the method of natural herd immunization is unethical, and what kind of legal and ethical aspects are relevant in international law and the WHO’s ethical codex for a pandemic. In a Christian perspective it seems not at all strange to approach the theme of pandemic ethic also with theological arguments. A creator God who became flesh is deeply involved in our bodily world and life. What counts as health therefore appears to be a central issue for believers and faith communities, as is faith in a God who bodily cares for and liberates God’s creation in all its dimensions. The exploration of Sweden’s pandemic experiment flows into a plea for to apply the triple command of love sharpened by the command of love of the poor and vulnerable, and concludes with a short meta-ethical reflection on the need of aesth/ethical imagination of the other.

Samvete i Sverige. Om frihet och lydnad från medeltid till idag

Anthology edited by Lindkvist & Ljungberg, Nordic Academic Press.

We live in a time when thoughts of conscience and freedom of conscience are increasingly seen in the Swedish public in national politics, on the newspapers’ editorial pages and in social media. Historically, both concepts have been used to mark a certain degree of freedom or a protected position in moral, political and legal conflicts. References to an individual’s conscience and differences between an internal and an external court have been able to legitimize exemption from religious and state coercive mechanisms and justified, for example, the refusal of arms or abortion. A group of researchers in history, human rights, jurisprudence, ethics and sociology of religion take a common approach here to some of the most burning conflicts around conscience and freedom of conscience in Sweden from the Middle Ages to today. A picture emerges of complex concepts that even today bear clear traces of older distinctions and historical conflicts.

Authors: Biörn Tjällén, Anna Nilsson Hammar, Joachim Östlund, Göran Gunner, Kavot Zillén, Linnea Jensdotter, Susanne Wigorts Yngvesson, Leif Ericsson, Johannes Ljungberg, and Linde Lindkvist.

Ecophilosophy and the Ambivalence of Nature: Kierkegaard and Knausgård on Lilies, Birds and Being

Article by Marius Gunnar Timmann Mjaaland in Kierkegaard Studies.

In The Lily in the Field and the Bird of the Air (1849), Kierkegaard presents a succinct critique of Romantic aesthetics, in line with contemporary critiques of ecocriticism and ecophilosophy, e.g. by Timothy Morton. Whereas Romantic poets see nature as a mirror of their inner thoughts and pathos, thereby divinising themselves and their creativity, Kierkegaard emphasises the authority of the Creator and the exteriority of nature. He identifies the consequences of such Romantic self-infatuation on all levels of discourse: aesthetics, ethics, epistemology and ontology, and seeks to formulate an alternative. I argue that the discourses thus represent an alternative philosophy of nature, revealing an immediate joy for the gift of being-there. Being human thus means being dependent on and embedded in nature. This makes Kierkegaard a highly relevant interlocutor for contemporary ecophilosophy and ecocriticism, as revealed by Knausgård’s novel Morgenstjernen (2020).

Resonans seminar: God Hidden and Revealed: Political Theology and Metaphysics in Luther and Protestantism

We are pleased to introduce our second Resonans seminar this autumn:

‘God Hidden and Revealed: Political Theology and Metaphysics in Luther and Protestantism’

7 desember 14.00-16.00

The paper will be presented by Marius Timmann Mjaaland, Professor of Philosophy of Religion, Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo

Respondent t.b.a.

Chaired by Jeppe Bach Nikolajsen (MF)

Zoom info:

Meeting ID: 649 6265 5868

Passcode: 158915

Church, State, and Pluralistic Society: Reforming Lutheran Teaching on the Two Regiments

Article by Jeppe Bach Nikolajsen in International Journal of Public Theology.


This article demonstrates that Lutheran teaching on the two regiments can be drawn in different directions and how it was drawn in a particular direction for centuries so that it could provide a theoretical framework for mono-confessional Lutheran societies. It argues that the Lutheran two regiments theory can be developed along a different path, regaining some emphases in Luther’s early reflections: it can thereby contribute to an improved understanding of the role not only of the church but also of the state. While a number of Lutheran theologians believe that Lutheran teaching on the two regiments is particularly difficult to apply today, with some even contending that it should simply be abandoned, this article argues that Lutheran teaching on the two regiments could present a potential for a relevant understanding of the relationship between church, state, and society, and its ethical implications in a contemporary pluralistic society.

Av denna världen? Gudsrike och temporalitet i tyskt politiskt tänkande före 1848

Article by Anton Jansson in Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift

This article deals with the theological concept “Kingdom of God” in pre-1848 German political thought, more specifically in the texts of three political authors of the era: Wilhelm Weitling, Friedrich Julius Stahl, and Karl Theodor Welcker. The article is located in the nexus between theology and history of political thought, and has three main aims: First, in a gen­eral sense, it discusses and applies Amos Funkenstein’s idea of laymen theology and Jan-Werner Müller’s notion of in-between figures. Second, using these, it gives an example how theology has been an active language in the formation of modern political thought, more specifically the modern political ideologies of liberalism, socialism, and conservatism. Third, it tries to complement existing studies of temporality and theology in the mod­ern period, most notably the work of Jayne Svenungsson. Methodologically, in focusing and historicizing one specific concept, it connects to the theories of Reinhart Koselleck. The article shows how the Kingdom of God was differently conceived by authors of different political positions, but, more importantly, discusses how it became an active theological concept, used by laymen, in a political context obsessed with questions of historical change, the possibility of societal perfection, and the role of Christianity in the world.

Mellan mission och sionism: Svenska Israelsmissionen och grundandet av Svenska teologiska institutet i Jerusalem

Article by Håkan Bengtsson in Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift.

This article discusses the establishment of the Swedish Theological Institute in Jerusalem in 1951. My claim is that the missionary plan of the Swedish Mission to the Jews was mitigated towards a programme of biblical studies. Several factors contributed to this transformation. The change facilitated the relations with the Israeli authorities. Another challenge was to overcome the common Christian negative comprehension of Zionism as a mere materialistic, political enterprise. Such attitudes complicated a connection to political Zionism, however the Swedish Theological Institute related rather to the cultural Zionist agenda of promoting Jewish culture and the Bible and could later connect to the topic of the Bible and the land. The experiences of the Swedish Mission in Vienna during the Second World War and their anti-Nazi stance also en­abled the founding of the institute. Two former missionaries, Greta Andrén and Hans Kosmala, were appointed as heads of the institute. Andrén had previously experienced that missionary work in Jerusalem was considered as utterly suspicious. Thereto both the Anglican and the Swedish missionaries had under ambivalent presuppositions supported an evacuation of baptized Jews, so-called “Hebrew Christians”, from Palestine to England in April and May 1948. This enterprise, named “Operation Mercy”, was later proved to be primarily an excuse for these Hebrew Christians to leave the country. The links to any overt mission­ary work was thus disengaged when negotiating permits for the Swedish Theological Institute. Instead, a qualified study programme in the Bible, the land, and Judaism was initiated; concepts that reflected esteemed values of the new Israeli state.

The Art of Re/Constructing Society: On avantgarde women, material theology and a future worth dreaming of

Ass. Prof. Petra Carlsson Redell, Stockholm School of Theology will give this years Aasta Hansteen Lecture on Gender and Religion at the Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo.

Time and place: Oct. 14, 2021 11:00 AM–12:00 PM,  Faculty Library, Domus Theologica, Blinderveien 9, Oslo

The seminar with Ass. Prof. Petra Carlsson Redell, beginning with a short response from the invited first respondent Ph.D. Simone Kotva, now Postdoc with the ECODISTURB project at TF 

The seminar offers an opportunity to engage with prof Carlsson Rydell’s lecture through comments, questions, and discussion. Or to just listen and learn. 


Russian avantgarde art from the beginning of the 20th century is famous for its treatment of color, form, and matter as part of a political vision for an equal, just, and sustainable society. Less known is its inspiration from theological and iconographic wisdom. The lecture introduces a key voice among this influential artistic group—constructivist artist and thinker Liubov Popova (1889-1924). Her work and thought stood out among her contemporaries by the way in which she combined a feminist, materialist political vision with spirituality and an un/orthodox inspiration from theology. The lecture introduces Popova as a source of inspiration for political and material theology today.

The lecture and seminar are open to all. It will also be streamed through zoom.


  • 11.00 – 12.00 Library, TF  – Lecture by Ass. Prof. Petra Carlsson Redell
  • 12.00-13.00 Lunch break
  • 13.00-15.00 Seminar room 214, TF

About Petra Carlsson

Petra Carlsson is an associate professor of Systematic Theology and dean of Stockholm School of Theology, University College Stockholm. Her research interests are in the borderland of theology, philosophy, ecology, art and activism. She is the author of Avantgarde Art and Radical Material Theology (Routledge, 2020), Foucault, Art, and Radical Theology (Routledge, 2020), Mysticism as Revolt (Davies Group, 2014), and is currently working on a manuscript tentatively titled Nonhuman Histories of Thought. Her Youtube channel includes lectures for teaching as well as mini-lectures inspired by green and queer activism, art and experimental theology. 

About Simone Kotva

Simone Kotva is Research Fellow at the Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo, where she works on the interdisciplinary ECODISTURB project. Her work is situated at the intersection of ecology, theology and critical theory. She is the author of Effort and Grace: On the Spiritual Exercise of Philosophy (London: Bloomsbury, 2020), and is currently completing a second book on political spirituality and earth ethics, Ecologies of Ecstasy: Mysticism, Agency and the More-than-Human. In 2021 she convened Magic and Ecology, an inovative seminar series mapping alternative approaches to climate justice from spiritual traditions rooted in the earth and indigenous lifeways

Publications Petra Carlsson

Categorized as Events